What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects 12 million Americans and negatively impacts sleeping schedules. People with sleep apnea periodically stop breathing while they are sleeping – this can happen up to 30 times an hour and can last either seconds or minutes. Typically, normal breathing resumes, sometimes with a snort or loud choking sound, but the disorder chronically disrupts your sleep. Every time the body stops breathing and then snaps back into action, you move out of a restful, deep sleep into a light sleep, causing extreme drowsiness during the day. Sleep apnea patients do not oxygenate their blood sufficiently; consequently, they are statistically more likely to succumb to the cardiovascular disease.
Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea:
- Headaches in the morning
- Issues with memory and inability to focus on tasks at hand
- Feeling irritable, depressed or experiencing mood swings
- Dry mouth or a sore throat when you wake up
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Loud snoring
- Snorting or choking sounds while you sleep
- Drowsiness during the day
There Are Three Types Of Sleep Apnea That People Suffer From: Obstructive, Central, And Complex:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common form of the disorder. It occurs when there is a physical blockage in your airway. Being overweight predisposes one to sleep apnea. It is more common in males than females and is more likely to occur in adults over 40 years old than it is in younger adults and children.
- Less common is Central Sleep Apnea, which occurs because your brain doesn’t properly send signals to the muscles that control your breathing.
- Some people also suffer from Complex Sleep Apnea, which is a mix of both obstructive and central.
Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?
Sleep apnea can have serious short term and long term risks if left untreated. Those who suffer from sleep apnea are at risk for high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, heart disease/heart attack, a stroke, and type-2 diabetes. The constant state of drowsiness that sleep apnea sufferers experience also puts them at risk when they are driving or operating machinery.
The level of treatment that a patient receives for their sleep apnea depends on the severity of their disorder. Some treatment is simply behavioral – a patient may be advised to lose weight, stop smoking or sleep on their side. However, for more severe cases, oral devices must be worn while sleeping. The purpose of a dental appliance is to reposition the lower jaw and tongue, thus opening up the airway and making it easier for a patient to breathe at night. For more severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
If you suspect you or a family member suffers from sleep apnea, contact Westfield Family Dentistry. We will be able to refer you to a sleep apnea specialist, who will be able to conduct testing and prescribe the appropriate treatment.